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5.0 out of 5 starsvery good
Reviewed in the United States on January 28, 2021
another winner by Tea Cooper she never disappoints
It was 1880 and eighteen-year-old Evie Ludgrove missed her father desperately. He’d taken her sister Miriam to Sydney to marry but had told Evie he would only be away a couple of months. He tasked her with formulating his notes and letters on the missing Ludwig Leichhardt, something William had been obsessed with for a long time. His thought was to write a book about the explorer but there was more to discover before that could happen. Evie would continue with the mapping in his absence.
When Letitia’s brother Thorne was killed in a dreadful accident, Lettie needed to get away from Sydney and her mother Miriam. She used her brother’s motor, the Model T Ford he’d named Lizzie, and drove to the Hunter Valley, to Yellow Rock where the family property was, where her mother had been born. She only knew what her mother had told her, so she expected her Great Aunt Olivia to be a dreadful old woman, frail and losing her mind. Olivia was far from that and delighted to see Lettie. Before too long Lettie was drawn into the disappearance of her Aunt Evie, thirty years prior. She was asked by Olivia to search the study – a room Olivia hadn’t ventured into after Evie disappeared – to see if she could find answers…
The Cartographer’s Secret is another outstanding work of fact blended with fiction (see the Historical Notes at the end) by Aussie author Tea Cooper, and I loved it. Racing through the pages, wanting to see where the story was going; I loved the character of Lettie, also Evie’s character. The novel was set in two timeframes – 1880 and 1911 – for the first half of the book and getting to know Evie was special. She was a lonely young woman, desperate for her father’s love and attention, determined to find the answers her father sought. Highly recommended.
Once again Tea Cooper has taken me on a historical journey to solve a mystery and uncover family secrets that have pulled a family apart, set in The Hunter Valley in 1880 and 1911 we get to know Evie Ludgrove and then Letitia Rawlings, as Letitia sets out on an adventure to search for answers from the past, beautifully written an enthralling story that brings the past to life.
Evie loves living at Yellow Rock, she loves her father and drawing and mapping the area, her father has always been obsessed with the famous explorer DR Ludwig Leichardt and she loves helping where ever she can. Evie is missing her father as he is in Sydney with her sister Miriam, she is working on a map and collating her father’s notes as requested when she finds an advertisement in The Bulletin offering one thousand pound reward for information on Leichardt and Evie is so very determined that she can do this, Evie sets off keeping secrets and not telling her Aunt Olivia about her quest and vanished without a trace.
Lettie lives in Sydney with her parents and her brother, Thorne when a tragedy happens Lettie leaves Sydney and heads to Yellow Rock in the Model T Ford that belonged to her brother, she needs some time to work her life out and come to terms with what has happened she is also there to let Great Aunt Olivia what has happened, but when she gets there she discovers that there is a lot that her mother has never told her. Olivia welcomes her with open arms and is soon telling her about Evie, Lettie is now determined to uncover what happened to Evie thirty years ago with the help of a beautiful map that she has discovered, and now the adventure begins.
This story had me savouring every word wanting to get to end and find out what had happened but not wanting it to end, what a fabulous story words woven together with fact and fiction, characters who are so real and alive on the pages, I almost felt like I was driving along in the motor with Lettie and climbing Yellow Rock and drawing with Evie. There are so many characters in this story to love, Olivia is honest and true to herself whereas Miriam her niece has lived in a totally different world. I loved Evie and Lettie they both showed strength in different ways, Evie Vulnerable and wanting to prove to her father what she could do and Lettie finally found herself in this one, there is a lovely romance and it is an awesome story one that I highly recommend, you won’t want to put this one down so clear some reading time.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher Harlequin Au for my digital ARC to read and review.
This book delivered so much more than I was expecting. I enjoyed the style of writing, the warmth of the characters, the setting and the journey. I’m lucky enough to be familiar with the Hunter region however this isn’t necessary to be able to transport oneself to the locations. Descriptions of settings are rich without being too wordy. I loved the independent female protagonists and the strong but empathetic males (not necessarily the patriarchs). The references to our early explorers and their obsessive endeavours were treated well. All in all a very enjoyable read and I plan to look for more titles from this author.
This is a great novel set in the early days of the Hunter Valley in Australia, The author Tea Cooper discovered the fact that the early Dutch maps were drawn by women but signed by men so she took delight in making this cartographer a female. The map is best shown in the Paperback version to see all the detail.